We have within our church family shared over the past few weeks the heartache of watching loved ones suffer. We have walked together through the portals of grief and sorrow as our beloved brothers and sisters have buried loved ones. We have grieved with them, loved on them, and comforted one another in the dark moments of death and separation. That’s what being the church, what being the fellowship, the family of God is about. We walk through “…the valley of the shadow of death” together with the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus, and with one another. Church is not always about Halleluiahs and Amens. Sometimes its about shedding tears and carrying burdens. In all of it, God has called us to be His people and to be united together in One Faith, One Lord and One Baptism. We cannot be the complete Body of Christ without tears, or without the aches and pains of carrying someone else’s load. I praise God today that our church is a burden-bearing, grief sharing, second-mile walking, bended-knee praying, good-times rolling, praise-lifting family of God. We are together through the good and the bad. We are the Family of God.
Jesus said in the gospel of John, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). Jesus is the good shepherd because he “knows” His sheep. He is with His sheep. He is with them through thick and thin. He is on sight and on task in the middle of His sheep’s daily lives. He does not depend on second-hand information. He does not care what other people say about His sheep. He does not compare His sheep with someone else’s sheep. He does not look at what is posted on-line about His sheep. He is with His sheep, and He “knows” His sheep.
Anybody that does not spend time with the sheep of the Lord cannot “know” the sheep. And worst yet, the sheep do not know them. You must be with them to “know” them. I want the “know” the Lord’s sheep like the good shepherd knows them. That’s why the Lord has given me this week the opportunity to be with His sheep in their sickness and their sorrow. He has blessed me to share with His sheep their praise and their pain. I have shed tears with the Lord’s sheep, and I have rejoiced in joy as good memories and happy stories have been told. I love being a pastor/shepherd to this body of sheep called Grace Baptist Church. It’s what God has called me to do.